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March 3, 2020

Three Tips For Managing Successful Projects

Three Tips For Managing Successful Projects
Vishnu Reddi leads a Power Lunch for professionals on improving project management.
Every business aims to improve customer outcomes, reduce operational costs and increase performance. However, not every business consistently implements ideas that add value or reduce inefficiencies.

Vishnu Reddi, a project management professional, professional engineer and assistant professor of practice in engineering at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, leads projects and teaches others how to do the same. In a recent Power Lunch for professionals at the College of Business, Reddi offered three tips for managing successful projects that provide value to your organization.

Assemble the Right Team for Each Project
First, identify your team members’ skills, strengths and weaknesses. Assigning all of your “best” people to every project can actually reduce efficiency and create fewer innovative ideas, which come from diversity of ideas, perspectives and skillsets, according to Reddi.

“A lot of times because of limited resources, we end up putting the same people on every project. It’s beneficial to frequently evaluate the strengths of that team. When you’re first forming a team, assign them a task or project that is ‘low-stakes.’ You can see how they perform together, then later put that team on a high-stakes project,” he said.

Measure Your Outcomes
“We cannot manage what we cannot measure. Always have some kind of measurement tool to help you identify what you’re trying to improve. Project management has basic organizational tools you can use every day no matter what business you are in to improve operations, efficiency and costs,” Reddi said.

Determine your business or organization’s goals, then set an expectation that aligns with these goals: a timeframe, sales goal or other benchmark to meet. Reddi offered examples of tools available to help determine these such as a SWOT analysis (in which you identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) or a chart that evaluates the outcomes of a project versus the amount of effort the project takes. By evaluating your outcomes along the way and communicating with your team, you can identify common issues or roadblocks that arise. 

Identify Tasks that Require More Effort
Reddi encourages project managers to look at the measurements to consider whether certain tasks create value for your organization. These measurements and tasks likely will change over time as the organization and technology evolve.

“What project do you see as ‘low value’ that you spend a lot of time and effort on? You have to consider whether those are important to your business. Also, if we don’t evaluate tasks regularly, they become a regular part of daily operations and are harder to change,” Reddi said.

Even after assembling the right team and measuring your outcomes, a project still may fail if influential stakeholders feel certain tasks or projects remain necessary, according to Reddi. But having recorded measurements can demonstrate to these stakeholders how low-value tasks are hurting productivity, and allow the project manager and team to follow up to discover why. Perhaps the goals weren’t clearly defined at the beginning of the project or the process is outdated.

Want to Go Deeper?
Interested in learning more about project management, risk management and operational excellence? The Center for Professional and Executive Education in the College of Business invites you to register for Reddi’s full-day certificate program “Project Management for the 21st Century,” in which he will guide you through examples and hands-on activities to better understand and apply the tools and processes to your specific projects.

The program is scheduled for Friday, March 27, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., in Howard L. Hawks Hall, 730 N. 14th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska. Learn more or register at https://business.unl.edu/academic-programs/executive-education/certificate-programs/.